Capture and Communicate the Full Value of Medical Science Liaisons (PH207)

Refining Global MSL Strategy with Compelling KPIs
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Published 2014
247 Pages
500+ Metrics
203 Charts and Diagrams

Never Face Questions About Your MSL Team's Value Again

One of the top challenges for the medical affairs group is justifying the value of their medical science liaison teams to key internal stakeholders. Despite being key players in the organization’s effort to build thought leader relationships, MSL teams wrestle with upper management to maintain or increase their resources each year. As the leader in MSL benchmarking research, Cutting Edge Information presents its fifth MSL study, which provides solutions for today’s MSL team leaders to track their teams’ performance and communicate their successes.

This study's data and analysis are derived from in-depth surveys from and interviews with medical affairs directors and MSL managers at more than 60 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies. The study features benchmarks and best practices for MSL executives to define key performance indicators, compare team resources across regions and therapeutic areas, and provide competitive compensation for liaisons at varying experience levels.

MSL teams will use the insights in this report to:

  • Track quantitative, KOL-driven metrics to assess MSL value.
  • Implement processes for cross-team communication among MSL groups to share best practices and overcome challenges.
  • Compensate MSLs based on experience level and indication complexity.
  • Track MSL activities to enhance companywide visibility.
  • Expand existing MSL responsibilities to support cross-functional objectives.

 

Key Questions That This Study Answers

  1. What metrics and best practices should MSL teams use to prove their value to upper management?
  2. How many KOL relationships should each MSL manage?
  3. How many MSLs do top 10, top 25, top 50 and small drug companies have on staff?
  4. What are the typical MSL budgets at top 10, top 25, top 50 and small drug companies?
  5. How MSLs compensated and what are are appropriate salary levels based on their experience levels?

 

Top Reasons to Read This Report

Learn how top pharma companies demonstrate MSL team value: MSL teams still struggle to prove value to upper management. While team leaders may prefer qualitative descriptions of their MSLs’ activities, quantitative metrics are still the focus for many senior-level executives. This report provides key performance indicators that MSL managers use to communicate their teams’ impact.

Right-size your MSL teams and strengthen cross-team communication: Use the benchmarks in this study to improve your MSL team organization and territory sizing models. Our report includes detailed staffing breakdowns for therapeutic areas and countries. By improving structure, companies can also enhance scientific expertise and facilitate cross-team communication. Communication among different MSL teams is essential for liaisons to share best practices and overcome challenges.

Guide your MSL hiring and compensation policies to attract and keep the best talent: Companies typically hire MSLs based on a mixture of experience, knowledge and ambition. For many surveyed teams, however, passion for the medical field is the differentiating factor between otherwise equally skilled candidates. To attract top talent, companies need to not only offer challenging positions aligned with MSL experience, but also compensate liaisons accordingly. This study includes best practices for hiring and compensating MSLs, including salary benchmarks for liaisons with 0, 2 or 5+ years of industry experience.

Capture and Communicate the Full Value of MSLs Metrics

 

Chapter 1: Emphasize MSL Value with Key Performance Indicators

Chapter Benefits

  • Deploy MSLs to support cross-functional activities to increase team visibility and demonstrate value to senior leaders.
  • Track quantitative, KOL-driven metrics to assess MSL value beyond their intangible contributions to the company.
  • Align MSL-thought leader connections by therapeutic area, as therapeutic area size directly correlates with measures for KOL relationships per MSL.

Chapter Data

36 charts showing companies’ use of key performance indicators (KPIs) to prove MSL value. Throughout the chapter, data are broken down by the region in which teams operate (US, EU, Asia and Latin America).

Percentage of MSL teams:

  • Facing challenges with proving value to upper management, by region
  • Using general metrics to demonstrate value
  • Using KOL-centric metrics to demonstrate value

Use and value of KPIs

Cutting Edge Information analysts asked survey respondents to rate KPIs as critical to proving MSL value, helpful to proving MSL value, or not tracked at all.

  • Total number of KPIs used to prove MSL value, by region
  • Number of KPIs critical to proving MSL value, by region
  • KPIs critical to proving MSL value
    • KPIs’ usefulness (critical, helpful, not tracked) in proving MSL value, by team region
      • Number of existing KOL relationships
      • Number of new KOL relationships
      • Number of interactions with KOLs
      • Number of scientific speeches delivered by MSLs
  • Monthly target number for KPIs critical to proving MSL value
  • Monthly target number of MSLs’ interactions with KOLs
  • KPIs helpful to proving MSL value
    • KPIs’ usefulness (critical, helpful, not tracked) in proving MSL value, by region
      • Number of IIT proposals submitted via MSLs
      • Number of publications facilitated
      • Number of scientific speeches delivered by KOLs
      • Number of KOLs providing feedback via surveys
      • Monthly target number for KPIs helpful to proving MSL value
  • Usefulness in proving MSL value, by region, for the following other, less effective KPIs:
    • Number of promotional speeches delivered by KOLs
    • Spending per KOL
  • Monthly target number for KPIs least effective for proving MSL value
  • Average number of KOL relationships per MSL, by therapeutic area
  • Number of KOL relationships per MSL, by company, for the following therapeutic areas:
    • Cardiology
    • Endocrinology/Diabetes
    • Hematology
    • Infectious Disease/Virology
    • Neurology
    • Oncology
    • Psychiatry/Mental Health
    • Respiratory/Pulmonary Diseases
  • Average length of KOL-MSL interaction, by meeting type (face-to-face, telephone, video chat)
  • Average length of a face-to-face meeting between KOLs and MSLs, by region and by company size (top 10, top 25, top 50 and small)
  • Average length of a telephone meeting between KOLs and MSLs, by region and company size (top 10, top 25, top 50 and small)

 

Chapter 2: Establishing Staffing and Building Structures for Global MSLs

Chapter Benefits

  • Structure MSL teams by therapeutic area to promote scientific expertise in the supported product’s disease area.
  • Implement processes for cross-team communication among MSL groups to share best practices and overcome challenges.
  • Concentrate MSL teams in countries with large and stable healthcare markets.
  • Consider the population of KOLs and the desired level of MSL-KOL interactions when determining MSL staffing levels.

Chapter Data

45 charts exploring MSL team structures, reporting relationships, staffing and budgets. Throughout the chapter, data are broken down by company size (top 10, top 25, top 50 and small) and by the region in which teams operate (US, EU, Asia and Latin America).

Structure and Reporting Relationships

  • MSL team structure: all teams (e.g., organized by region and disease area, region and product, by product or by region)
  • MSL team structure, by company size
  • Title of MSL head, by company size and by region
  • Team to which MSLs report, by company size
  • Diagrams of MSL structures at top 10 and top 25 companies
  • Percentage of MSL teams facing challenges with internal communication, by region
  • Percentage of MSL teams operating in specific countries within these regions:
    • Europe
    • Asia Pacific
    • Latin America
    • Africa
  • Age of MSL function, by team region and company size

Team Staffing

  • Average MSL headcount, by country (in FTEs)
  • Average ranking of factors that determine MSL staffing levels, by region
  • Number of MSL teams and MSLs per team, by region
  • Total MSL headcount, by company size and region
  • Percentage change in MSL staffing from 2012 to 2014, by region
  • Average MSL headcount for individual companies, by therapeutic area:
    • Cardiology
    • Dermatology
    • Endocrinology/Diabetes
    • Infectious/Virology
    • Neurology
    • Oncology
    • Psychiatry/Mental Health
    • Respiratory/Pulmonary Diseases

 

Chapter 3: Hire MSLs Strategically, compensate Competitively and Budget Prudently

Chapter Benefits

  • Hire MSLs based on a combination of key factors: professional experience, medical/scientific knowledge and personal drive.
  • Compensate MSLs based on experience level and indication complexity.
  • Develop training sessions that mimic KOL interactions to better prepare MSLs for real-world scenarios in the field.

Chapter Data

42 charts detailing MSL budgets, training and salaries. Throughout the chapter, data are broken down by company size (top 10, top 25, top 50, and small) and by specific countries within surveyed regions (US, EU, Asia and Latin America).

MSL Training and Salaries

  • Educational/professional degrees attained by MSLs, by region
  • Frequency of ongoing training, by region and company size
  • Average MSL salary, by years of experience, company size and region for 2012 and 2014

MSL Outsourcing and Budgets

  • Percentage of companies outsourcing MSLs
  • Percentage of companies planning to outsource MSLs
  • Average ranking of factors that determine MSL budget levels
  • MSL budget allocation (2012 and 2014) for specific items
  • MSL team budgets for teams across all company sizes and in these specific countries:
    • US
    • United Kingdom
    • France
    • Spain
    • Italy
    • Germany
    • China
    • Japan
    • India
    • South Korea
    • Argentina
    • Brazil
    • Mexico

 

Chapter 4: Work Closely with Clinical Development to Expand MSLs’ Pre-Market Role

Chapter Benefits

  • Encourage and develop creative approaches for MSLs’ clinical trial support efforts.
  • Prioritize MSLs’ workload to spend the majority of time on core KOL engagement activities when supporting investigational products.
  • Establish or strengthen communication channels to ensure that insights gained in the field are shared internally.

Chapter Data

36 charts detailing MSL activities supporting investigational compounds. Cutting Edge Information segmented 16 MSL activities into four categories — core, secondary, occasional and rare — based on how surveyed companies perceive and rate them. Throughout the chapter, data are also broken down by company size (top 10, top 25, top 50 and small) and by team region (US, EU, Asia and Latin America).

  • Number of pre-market activities for MSL teams, by region
  • Prioritized ranking of (core, secondary, occasional and rare) pre-market MSL activities

The following charts are included in detailing each of the four activity categories:

  • Pre-market (core, secondary, occasional and rare) activities for MSL teams, by region
  • Percentage of time spent on (core, secondary, occasional and rare) MSL activities

 

Chapter 5: Support Marketed Products Through Core KOL Engagement Activities

Chapter Benefits

  • Establish processes allowing MSLs to train and support field sales reps in ways that are both compliant and productive.
  • Prioritize MSLs’ time so that the majority of their efforts focus on bringing KOLs new scientific research.
  • Collect competitive intelligence and insights about physician prescribing behavior to deepen product knowledge and uncover opportunities.

Chapter Data

37 charts detailing MSL activities supporting products post-launch. Cutting Edge Information segmented 18 MSL activities into four categories — core, secondary, occasional and rare — based on how surveyed companies perceive and rate them. Throughout the chapter, data are also broken down by company size (top 10, top 25, top 50 and small) and by team region (US, EU, Asia and Latin America).

  • Number of post-launch activities for MSL teams, by region
  • Prioritized ranking of core (secondary, occasional and rare) post-launch MSL activities

The following charts are included in detailing each of the four activity categories:

  • Post-launch (core, secondary, occasional and rare) activities for MSL teams, by region
  • Percentage of time spent on (core, secondary, occasional and rare) post-launch MSL activities

MSL Research Excerpt

The following is a key finding from the report’s Executive Summary:

COMPETITIVE MSL SALARIES: Large and Mid-Sized Pharmaceutical Organizations Surpass Small Companies as Highest Annual Wage-Providers

A comparison of salary data from Cutting Edge Information’s 2012 MSL study and this current research reveals several key trends. In general, the MSL landscape has become more competitive. With the exception of small pharma companies, surveyed companies reported an uptick in annual salaries, across all MSL experience levels. By comparison, MSLs at small pharma companies received similar compensation in 2012 and 2014. MSLs with less than five years’ experience actually receive less compensation per year in 2014 than in 2012. Consequently, surveyed large and mid-sized pharma companies have, in effect, replaced small pharma companies as the chief providers of competitive rates of MSL compensation.

In 2014, small companies report relatively unchanged average salaries across their in-house MSLs. Yet these rates are no longer the highest among surveyed company types. Small companies no longer have to pay a premium to attract talented MSLs. Rather, larger companies have had to increase wages to prevent talented employees from jumping ship for higher-paying jobs at small companies.

MSLs at Top 50 companies with at least two years’ experience also slightly edge out MSLs working at other company sizes. However, with the exception of those at small pharma companies, MSLs with between two and five years’ experience receive comparable average salaries. MSLs with five or more years’ experience receive the highest average salary at Top 25 companies. But as with MSLs with two or more years’ experience, average salaries are similar across Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50 teams.